Working out: to puke or not to puke?

By Coach Mel

There is a school of thought that if you puke during a workout you are the ultimate workout champion. You have pushed yourself to the hardest of limits. You have achieved fitness success.

Or not.

Tossing your cookies during a workout is not a good thing. But, if this has ever happened to you, I am here to tell you that it might not knowingly be your fault and can be induced by a number of things, most of which you can fix.

The main cause of workout-puking is your nutrition and its timing. If you are an early workout person who "can't eat before working out" this could be causing your issue. Working out on no food causes your already-low blood sugar to become even lower during exercise. This can lead to dizziness, nausea, or puking. The same goes for you afternooners who say you'll just eat after the workout. While post-workout nutrition is very important (a topic that will be addressed in a later blog), exercising on an empty stomach could be causing you to throw up. Eating something small about 2 hours (though this varies a bit per individual) before working out is best. Now, if you're working out at 6am I do not expect you to get up at 4am…but you still should eat something before coming in.

Higher fat foods tend to not sit well during workouts. Try and pick a snack more loaded in carbohydrates with some protein. In the morning, eat oatmeal with fruit and an egg, a smoothie, or if you just can’t stomach much in the morning, at least eat a banana with a little almond butter for something more substantial. In the afternoon, eat some chicken with rice, sweet potatoes, or a sandwich before your workout.

Another cause not so easily fixed is motion sickness. Some people are very sensitive to motion and so a plyometric workout heavily centered around jumping or movements where there are a lot of level changes - like burpees and squat thrusts - can lead to vomiting. During this type of workout, try picking a point to focus on during the movement and see if that helps.

Most often the cause of vomiting during a workout is not because you are the biggest badass in the gym. It’s likely due to your nutrition pre-workout. If you throw up, take note of what you’ve eaten - or not eaten - prior to working out. If you consumed a cheesy, spicy, delicious Mexican dish complete with a margarita to wash it down at your work lunch, well, you can answer your own question. But if it was something normal within your diet and you find vomiting to be a common occurrence, you are going to need to do some experimenting.

If you know deep down you aren't making the healthiest pre-workout choices, first alter your food. If that doesn't help, play with the timing of when you eat. Standard best practice is to eat 2-3 hours before exercise. If you think you fall into the motion sickness category, I would recommend finding a focal point when doing plyometric movements or ask you coach for modifications. Sure beats a dramamine prescription!

Feeling your best during a workout is a lot about trial and error. Our bodies are all wired differently and there are many contributing factors to performing at your best: diet, sleep, time of day, weather, etc. All we can do is our best to treat our bodies right and try and figure out what works best for us.